Monday, June 19, 2017

Bottles of Art on the Wall

Whoops, I let a whole month go by without writing about the art I've been making.  Well...., one of the things I got into is making "Bottle Art". On Instagram, I saw a lot of artist's bottle art for a show being held in Las Vegas.  It was just a show, and people could purchase their art either at the gallery or through the artist.  I thought it would be great if I could trade Bottle art using a template I made, but I think the format might be too large.  However, a few artists did agree to trade and I received amazing bottle art from them.  Here are some of the bottle art I traded.

Spring Nature Goddess with Bluebird

Cranky Smoking Elder Lady 1

Raven Shaman II


Raven Shaman I

Flower Crowned Bunny with Pink Moon

Cranky Smoking Elder Woman II

Cavaleras Las Flores

Sakura Buddha

Anthropomorphic Sun
I also made an art book entitled "Play" with Ravens playing with shiny jewels with each other.  I used a Gothic Arch template to create an accordion book.  Sandwich between the cover and the arches, are used dryer sheets.  I squirted watercolor using a hypodermic tool on it and the cover.  
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Cover of "Play"

Ravens at Play

Working on the inside and on dryer sheets 

I joined another drawing group at Foothills Gallery in La Mesa, so I belong to quite a few art tribes.  We can work on any project with any media, but mainly it's with colored pencil artists.  Quite a few of them have left the San Diego chapter as I did some years ago, and have now joined the LA chapter.  It sounds very inspiring, so I decided to join again, this time with Los Angeles.  I'm getting ready for the International Show next month and can't wait to meet up with all these wonderful artists from everywhere.  I'm so thrilled to have my drawing/painting hanging with very esteemed artists!  

On a sad note, my dearest friend's dog, Hurley, went to dog heaven last week.  He was my dog friend too and it was such a pleasure to have known him.  He had an amazing life journey, having been lost from his home and family during the Witch Creek Fires.  My friend saw him and adopted him immediately.  He was pretty chill except when there was a crackling fire going on in the fireplace, where he would just quietly go into another room  He will be missed so much.  I did a small, quick colored pencil portrait of him to give to my friend to help ease her sadness. 


Thursday, April 6, 2017


One of the most fun jobs I had was that of an airbrush artist back in the free wheeling and fun 70s.  I worked at "The Airbrush Shop" in Pacific Beach. Lazy me would wake up late, go to the shop and paint for hours and then go to the beach, stay up all night having fun and get up and do it again. We didn't know then, that those days would be some of the fondest days we all had together.
We artists made the most complex stencils with flaps upon flaps and spray our designs on practically anything, but mostly t-shirts.  Each of us had a specialty, but we all learned from one another and became experts at waves, clouds, flowers, fairies, Pegasus, animals, and especially wings and birds. We painted team shirts for sky divers, hang gliders, and "Over the Line" teams as well as made beautiful evening dresses and bathing suits. I was once flown to San Francisco to paint actual hang gliders, one of which was inspired by the "Journey to Ixtlan" bird.
Circa 1970s - the artists of The Airbrush Shop,Balboa Dr., Pacific Beach, CA
Left to right: Janice Crofton, Diane Gerard, Katheryn Bailey, Andy Anderson, Me, Robbie Adkins, Wess Smith

These were taken for to be ads in the  newspaper "The Reader".  I think the lady with the cat is our photographer.

I use to know their names, but they came all the way from Telluride, CO to get one of our shirts.

70s Surfboard 

Hang glider painted in the Art Nouveau style I admire so much back then.  This is at Torrey Pines Glider Port

Rainbow Wing Flower Hang Glider

Side view of the Rainbow Wing with the "Journey to Ixtlan" bird and the owner.  She was such a BA back then, I wonder what has become of her now.

We painted a lot of birds-of-prey because so many of our clients loved to fly and related to these incredible birds. Many hang gliders told stories about catching thermals and getting higher and higher, only to have a red-tail hawk flying along side giving the pilot a good look.  So of course, we did many hawks, eagles, falcons and truly tried to make them as  realistic and magical as possible. Although I was more into the hummingbirds and seagulls back then, there was one bird-of-prey I loved as much as the others, and somehow we never did them. It was the magical black crows and ravens with practically every culture giving them a mythological lore.  They are also very intelligent and flying acrobats.
 An artist, from IATC, asked if I would like to contribute a painting with proceeds from the art auction to be donated to the ACLU.  In this day and age, of course I would! The subject could be anything and it could be any size.  Well, my mind is on birds because my friend, Mae, and I trade art on the animal of the year, and this year it's birds. So, I thought I would do a dynamic painting of a raven in fond memories of those days of airbrushing wings and birds-of-prey. What I do for my friend is still up in the air, but here is the painting for a special someone who bids on it.  Here's the link: Art Into Auction 2017

Watercolor 9 x 12 inches

Friday, February 17, 2017

My Story Begins With Her's

18" x 22" Watercolors
I haven't done a painting in two years.  So much was going on during those two years and, frankly,  I just wasn't inspired.  However, sometimes prayers are answered, the future looks very bright again, and the muse comes back! I had always wanted to do a portrait of my mom in her beautiful traditional Japanese wedding kimono.  I had done a previous portrait in colored pencils, but it wasn't very good as I was just getting back into art.
Last December, when Carrie Fischer and her mom Debbie Reynolds passed away, I was reflecting on my own relationship with my mother and how much it may explain my being a weirdo. Weird that I'm a contradiction - social introvert, homebody bookworm  and adventure seeker, serene exterior and nervous wreck interior.  My relationship with my mother was not at all like Carrie's, in fact, to say the least - it was quite the opposite and it has always haunted me.  I pretty much grew up raising and teaching things to myself and helping my siblings as my mother was just not equipped in the way of emotional needs of her children and my father was constantly on tour while he was in the air force.  By the time her 3rd and 4th baby came, she spiraled deep into depression for way too many reasons . At a very young age, I learned how to take her emotional temperature and if it was bad, I did my best to help her in my child capacity.  I learned how to cook and clean by the time I was in kindergarten.  I also quickly learned how to read so I could help translate things to her as she was still learning English and the American culture. But, I also acted out a lot, doing things I never understood why but I felt like I had to live life to the fullest and could be very impulsive. By the time I was in the 3rd grade, she found  religion - Buddhism (Nichiren Shoshu) and connection with other Japanese American women whom she clung to for the rest of her life.  They became the family she always longed for and her life had purpose and direction.  She finally became happy with her life and the direction it took.   However, for me and my siblings, she and her country has always been a large question mark.  But this is what I do know ~
Ohba Family circa late 1920s, early 1930s
Back Left to Right: Name unknown - eldest sister, Asano, Zenkai, name unknown - eldest brother
Front Left to Right: Name unknown - 2nd oldest sister, Korean maid sitting and  holding next to youngest sister Aiko, and sister Fumiko. My mom is not yet born.
My mom, Kazuko, was born in Japan on March 4, 1932 into the very well-to-do Ohba family (old Samurai heritage), her dad Zenkai and her mom, Asano.  Zenkai was a very high ranking officer in the Japanese military during WWII (yes, the wrong side).  Before my mom was born, Zenkai and Asano had 5 children, a boy and 4 girls with my mom becoming their 6th and last child.  However, Asano died a few days after giving birth to my mother.  And so, my mom was motherless with a Korean maid (yikes!) looking after her and her siblings. Knowing what I do, I believe my mother never bonded with her dad and only had a few days as a newborn with her mother.  After Asano died, Zenkai found a new wife and they had a daughter, Hirako (not positive that is her name but we'll call her Hirako here).  By then, the eldest son and a daughter had passed away, but I don't know the story.  The new wife did not want to be encumbered with the two youngest children (Aiko and my mom), and so Zenkai had them adopted out to two of his bodyguards and their respective families.  Some people have told me that is what was customary at the time.  I never knew the name of the man who adopted my mom, except that his last name is Shimizu and that was the name my mother went by. She inherited a step-brother who was older than her by a few years, a step-mother who both doted & spoiled her, but a step-father who was cruel to her. I only go by the few stories my mom happened to mention.  Time went on, and my mom wanting to learn English, found a job at an air force base in Japan as a housekeeper while she went to English school.  She was invited to a party and there she met my dad and they fell in love, married and had me.  By then, she had no memory of her previous family and never knew that the family had been wealthy.  Before my parents married and went to live permanently with me in tow,  a Japanese woman came to visit my mom.  My mom said the woman looked very much like her and it turned out to be her oldest natural sister (name unknown but she is in the dark fur coat to the left of the maid) who had explained about her natural family and about the other adopted sister (Aiko).  While living in her new country, she learned of the death of the sister who had told her about her past.  I believe she is pictured in my parents wedding wearing a white shirt.  In the early 60s, my mom returned to Japan to see/meet her two remaining sisters (Fumiko and Aiko)  and, also the half-sister Hirako.  Every few years, these sisters would meet up and talk of Ohba family past. What became of Zenkai, well it turns out that not too long after he adopted out his two youngest daughters, there was a parade with the military and horses.  One of the horses was acting up and the handler couldn't control it.  So, my grandfather went to take control.  However, the horse threw him and he broke his neck and died. I never found out about the older siblings and how they passed away.  And a lot of the history comes from both Fumiko and Hirako of what they remember.  My mom never said very much about all of this to us, but what she did, I hung on every word.
Kazuko and Ed in love and on a date.

I don't know all the people  here, but standing Left to right: two unknown people, my Uncle Pete, and my mom's stepbrother.
Seated from left to right, unknown man, my Aunt Yoshiko who is married to my Uncle Pete, unknown woman, and my dad, mom, her natural sister in the white shire, and her step-mother. The Pettit brothers were not really supposed to be stationed together and would never be stationed together after Johnson AFB.

This was probably one the last times the sisters met in Japan. Standing left to right is Hirako (half-sister) and Aiko (the baby in the lap of the Korean maid in the Ohba Family photo above)
Seated left to right is my mom, Kazuko, and Fumiko (little girl in the white fur coat on the right)

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Lotus Dance

In the philosophy of Buddhism, the lotus represents you and your mind of thoughts and emotions while living on this earth plane.  The lotus rises from murky muddiness and grows to the surface of the water where there is light.  There are many different meanings as to the openness as well as the color of the lotus flower, but basically the meaning of an open lotus flower is the attainment of enlightenment.   So many of us are born in utter confusion and many of us must deal with so much personal hurt while growing towards being a better person.  We all have that "monkey mind" and let our thoughts get the best of our emotions and health.  
Although I am not Buddhist, I appreciate the philosophy very much and view the symbol of the lotus flower as a growing and often struggling human being. My painting "Lotus Dance" represents that very growing phase between birth in the mud to enlightenment of the blossoming lotus flower. We all skirt and skate through life, bending this way and that to adjust to our own personal healthy growth.  We often have had to deal with tremendous personal tragedies and a life time of personal hurt and regret throughout our lives.  However, with much hope of still attaining light and happiness in our short lives, we conquer our emotions, our self-criticizing thoughts, and we make peace with the things that have hurt us.  True enlightenment is when we let it all go and then our lives culminate in the opening of a lotus blossom.   
"Lotus Dance" did not make the cut in the CPSA International Show this year.  I need to go back to the drawing board and try to figure out why.  Is it me and my point of view, the use of the medium of colored pencils, am I not clever enough when I title my painting or what.....?  So, here I am doing a sort of Lotus Dance with my developing art growth.  I'll try to enter it again for the next CPSA International Show when there is a different juror. Meanwhile, it did get accepted into the San Diego Museum of Art Artist Guild Centennial Exhibition.  It'll be in Gallery 21 at Spanish Village late May and through the middle of June.  Balboa Park was created for the World's Fair and it's now 100 years old and is an inspiration for a lot of my art work including "Lotus Dance". 

"Lotus Dance" ( 22.75" x 30.37") Colored Pencil on 300 lb Hot Press Arches 

I've also had fun with masterpiece studies with the small scale of an ATC card for a PAT swap on IATC.  I always enjoy studying and interpreting the master artists and their paintings.  I'm drawn to color play with high contrasts and complimentary colors and chose these paintings to do.
Top Row: Interpretations of J.W. Turner, David Galchutt, Alice Neel, Audrey Kawasaki
Bottom Row: Interpretations of Tamara de Lempicka, Degas, E.R. Kirchner, Umberto Boccioni
All done on 3.5 x 2.5 inch ATC cards in acrylic on watercolor paper with the exception of the Degas which is done with colored pencils on cardboard. 

I am currently finishing up on a fun thing we do on IATCs which is Secret Solstice.  It's much like Secret Santa, but it's a spring/summer time of having secret partners to do art by their interests and likes.  I accidentally posted a piece thinking I could show the painting stages of one of the gifts on FB.  Sometimes, you get clumsy and forget who is your friend... but, hopefully, my recipient doesn't know it's for her and besides, she hasn't seen the final painting.  

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Twitterpating Spring

Where the double hockey sticks have I been?  I've certainly been making most of the  first part of the year about FUN!  However, I have not neglected my duty to always make art because that's really the very most wonderful thing to do!

For one of my BFFs, who is also an artist, we came up with animals to do for each other each year in lieu of birthday, Christmas and other celebrations and call the day "Festivus"after an episode in the Jerry Seinfeld show.  This day is celebrated whenever we are ready - usually in spring. Mainly, we find each other little gifts on the theme and we also do our own art of the animal. 2014 was the Year of the Horse (my Chinese birth symbol) and I marked a milestone birthday (60), plus it was my turn to pick, so I felt the horse was apropo for the theme.

I love horses, but I've actually only ridden on one once when I turned 50 and my husband took me to Cancun.  I rode the horse "Sailor" out into the ocean at sunset - magical!  Even though I've not had much experience dealing and relating to horse (visiting farms, racetracks, westerns and nature shows) I've always loved this beautiful creature and everything it represents.  I decided I would make my friend an art Horse book like I once did with Hopi Spirits for another artist for the Secret Santa exchange. The pages are approximately 9" x 12" and are bounded by Japanese book binding and adorned with beads and feathers. Before binding the book, I sewed down each horse page except the cover and last page in different colored threads.  Then after binding the book, I then cut the pages open following the colored threads.  I had to loosen the book a little by placing weights on the pages so it'll be easier to open when I present it.  

Cover Page: Horses from the caves of Lascaux (Charcoal on watercolor tinted paper)

Spirit Horse - watercolor with use of Golden medium done using some of the Imago Intaglio methods. 

Dark Horse - Prisma colored pencils on blue watercolor tinted paper

Ocean horse - watercolor and gouache

Winter Horse - Watercolor with a bit of metallic watercolor splash

Spring Meadow Horse - a fauvish horse and landscape in watercolor

Last page - Horse Head Nebula in watercolors with use of metallic watercolors
 It came out pretty nice and I hope my friend likes it.  I certainly enjoyed doing it and may end up doing a series of art books.  Now it's time for me to have a little fun with no pressure except meeting the deadline - ATCS.  These are for the Favorite Artist Pat in which you do the other artists, with whom you'll be trading cards, favorite artists.  Sketching always takes the longest time but now they're ready to be painted. The brown one is cardboard and will be done in colored pencils.  By the IATC gallery, it looks like I'll be receiving some fantastic interpretations of Gustave Klimt and Egon Schiele.  If I hurry with these, maybe I can get some geisha cards done next!
Clockwise from Left: Tamara de Lempicka, David Galchutt, Umberto Boccioni, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Audrey Kawasaki, Edgar Degas, Alice Neel

Monday, December 29, 2014

Last Art of the Year

2014 has been a very fun and interesting Year of the Horse.  Although there have been some downs, I am truly blessed and am happy. Looking back at my fairly long journey here on earth, I've been reflecting on what was not apparent back when I was much younger - those things that just happen for no apparent reason but by some odd twist of fate there it is and it affects you deeply for the rest of your life.  At the time, you're completely bewildered, but then you get a glimpse of why it may have happened.  With that in mind, I thought I would explore some of these life experiences with handmade art journals as well as my own interpretations of certain subject matter.  2015 will not only be a year of artistic discipline, but of venturing out and exploring new themes and ideas.

I sincerely need to find more balance in time management with the making of art and what kind of art to make (as well as jog and walk my dog and yoga and maintain a social life!).  I didn't paint on a large scale as much as I had planned this year, instead I had a record year in making mail art to trade. Because I am such an introvert, I thought I would get out of my safe box and try to get to know the other artists that I've been trading with even better through their art as well as meeting some of them in person.  I've made and traded something like 275 art cards, art dolls, hearts, mixed media art this year.   It was a lot of fun, but I do need to continue to push myself in paintings using all mediums and to further develop myself as an artist. I have several goals for the year and one is to be juried and accepted into several big International shows for 2015.

That said, it was a blast to make different things for both of my Secret Santas on IATCs. The first was a mini gift was for an artist who is a genius at turning flea market items into fun objects of art and for crocheting adorable cute monsters. She and her partner also have the most wonderful contests of turning the ordinary into the extraordinary at Wonderstrange .  Because she is into Henry VIII and his assorted queens, I thought she would like some nesting dolls.  I made a mistake and ordered the 5 doll set instead of the 7 doll set, but I made it up by making the last two wives with ATC cards.
Henry VIII with Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves Nesting Dolls

Catherine Howard

Catherine Parr
 My next Secret Santa is an artist I've not had too much interaction with in the past, but it was fun getting to know her.  I love her very expressionistic way of painting subjects and the Secret Santa portrait she painted of her own partner's dog is amazing.  I hope she gets me next year, I would love another portrait of my sweet dog, Roxy! Apparently, she also works as someone who delivers knives to various companies and loves themes with women and knives, skulls, and Day of the Dead!  Here are some of the things I conjured up for her.
Day of the Dead wall plaque painted with acrylics in her favorite colors and embellished with cut tin cans

Skull hand with articulated finger blades

"Kill Bill's" Beatrix with O'ren Ishi articulated dolls ready to sword fight. Wish you could see the glittery swirls in O'ren's kimono.

I also finished a few swaps - "Snow Queens & Goddesses", "Whimsical Robots", and Portraits of Men.
Snow Queens & Goddess' are always fun to do!  Some of them are cold and calculating and the others are more of the sheltering type for the winter animals.  One is a little sad because she really hates fox hunts.  For the Whimsical Robots, I love humanizing them and letting them be a bit naughty.  A couple of them like to try on human personas and the other two like to indulge big time! 
Snowflake Crowned Snow Queen, Snow Goddess with Snowy Owl, Snow Goddess with Red Fox, Yuki-onna - Japanese Snow Goddess

Candy-Bot, Rockabilly-Bot, Sommelier-Bot, Cowboy-Bot

And finally, for the "Portraits of Men", I chose to do some of my favorite rock icons.  Musicians have the most expressive faces that I particularly enjoy doing.  I always love to do portraits and in doing so, being a shy person, I always feel like I can get to know and understand a person better.  Here they are in simple graphite.

Thom Yorke

Kurt Cobain

Keith Richards

Lenny Kravitz
I would love to show the gifts I received, but some artists are very sensitive about publishing their art online, so all I can say is that I received the most wonderful gifts! One of my favorite things is to make and receive art from other artists and I've had a bumper year.

So as I write this, I have that giant colored pencil piece of the koi in an underwater lily pad garden scene to finish and I have two side-show circus freaks drawn out. I haven't committed myself to the swap, but rather wanted to find the time to complete the cards first and then commit.  So far, I have a sexy bearded lady and a fire breather.  I'd like to have a twin double-headed persons who share the same body but have dual natures (think Tea Party and very, very Liberal).  I'm still thinking about the last freak and may have to refer to American Horror Story for inspiration.  

I hope the coming year brings many wonderful things your way and may all your dreams come true!  

Blessings and Happy Creating!